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Now Open: Grain Stack at the MIA

  • Blog Post by: Rick Nelson
  • January 21, 2014 - 4:25 PM

There's a name for the restaurant that recently (and very quietly) opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

It's Grain Stack Could the name have anything to do with a certain treasured Monet hanging upstairs in Gallery G355? (Answer: Yes).

The restaurant, formerly known as Mezzanine, is the work of Stock & Badge, the collaboration between Victory 44 chef Erick Harcey, Rustica and Dogwood Coffee Co.). It's located on the Third Avenue side of the museum, overlooking the lobby of the Children's Theatre Co. Here's a peek at the menu:

While the museum prepares for its talked-about Matisse show (opening Feb. 23), the new lobby-level coffee and cocktail bar (pictured, below) is scheduled to open on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Harcey has big news. He's taking over the former In Season in southwest Minneapolis (Penn Av. S. and 54th St., across the street from Cafe Maude) and opening Bent Arrow.

"It's going to be a version of the early Victory 44," said Harcey. The chalkboard menu's basic format will feature eight to 10 rotating items in the $15-and-under range. Beer and wine, too. Unlike Victory 44, the service staff will be separate from the cooking staff. 

Harcey (pictured above in a Star Tribune file photo) plans to start with dinner service. "And once we get comfortable, we'll probably add brunch," he said. "I don't think lunch is in the cards, given the size of the space."

The plan is to open on or around April 1st. At the same time, Harcey is introducing changes at Victory 44.

"We want to make it more neighborhood-centric and family-friendly," said the father of four boys ages 8 and under. The strategy includes dropping the current tasting menu format in favor of more casual options, using the restaurant's popular (and fantastic) burger -- he doesn't call it the "Perfect Burger" for nothing -- as a foundation.

He's also going to make a more conscious effort towards catering to children. "Right now, it's not the most accommodating restaurant when it comes to kids," he said. "It's a cliche, but I want to do comfort food, but do it in a playful way."

While he's doubling down at Victory 44 and Bent Arrow, Harcey is maintaining his partnership in Stock & Badge, continuing to develop menus for the company's properties, but leaving the day-to-day operations to chefs under his tutelage, including Josh Wood at Parka and longtime Harcey acolyte Jen Farni at Grain Stack.

"These young chefs are one of the reasons that I can step back, because they're strong, and they can take the helm," Harcey said. "It's their time now, and it's great to be able to make opportunities for them, to let them flourish while I do my own thing for a while. Maybe it's also my own selfishness, because I want to cook, I want to get back on the line again. I'm not a very good meetings-and-office kind of guy."

As for the Bent Arrow name, it's a play on lightning. Specifically, the name of a dearly departed Scottish Highland beast named Lightning (think of a cartoon image of a lightning bolt, which resembles, yes, a bent arrow). The animal's head will be mounted in the restaurant. "Lightning is a kind of a weird name for a restaurant," said Harcey with a laugh. "So we went with Bent Arrow, and we're paying tribute to a really tasty cow."

© 2014 Star Tribune